Check-up From the Neck Up

Every now and then I get a flashback to the nine summers I spent at Camp Greystone listening to Jim Miller expound on our need to have a good attitude and godly response to whatever circumstances would come our way in life. One of his phrases for examining our attitudes was “You need a check-up from the neck up!”

As a kid, I sort of filed the good attitude thing away with Jim’s corny stories about scraping dog bits off the asphalt with a squeegee (don’t ask), but now that I’m older I appreciate so much more the way my attitudes to the providences of life not only impact my peace and growth, but also either bring honor to God or not.

I was convicted this week by this post at Making Home about dealing with the bitterness, desire for control, attitudes of entitlement, and impatience that often rise to the surface when God gives us a hard providence (or several) in our lives. Often I get so caught up in my own little world that I forget that God’s business is not to bestow upon me a pink and purple life of ease. Rather, He gives me the greater gift of making me more like Christ. Ultimately, every circumstance of my life is for His glory and my good.

This morning I read three passages that God used to speak to my heart about my attitudes and encourage me.

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth and His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind? Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents, but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1-3)

It struck me that for the man and his parents, his being born blind must have been incredibly painful. Their culture blamed that kind of event on sin, so probably the parents were snubbed and shunned within their community for years, while they mourned their dreams for their son, whose only open career path would be begging on the street. It’s not like the baby came with a note that said, “Don’t worry, it’s cool – in 30 years or so God will be glorified in this circumstance.”

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and sets me upon my high places. He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand upholds me; your gentleness makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. (Psalm 18:33-36)

In the midst of hard things, God doesn’t leave us alone and defenseless. He equips us to face the particular circumstances of our lives, and upholds us all the way. God showed me really clearly this week several areas where the abilities He gave me could be applied in unusual ways to work in my current circumstances. I waste a lot of time worrying over how things will turn out, but looking back over my life I can truly say that although sometimes it seems like only one step at a time is smoothed out, God has never failed to bring about some unexpected solution or provision at just the right time.

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

We are not to judge the success of our lives or base our happiness on things the world sees as marks of the good life. This passage says that even if by all outward measures your life is a complete wreck, you can still exult in the Lord, because His gift of salvation is so magnificent and His works in your life are so great.

The circumstances of your lives are probably quite different from mine – we’re all uniquely made and what seems like a difficult refining process to me might seem like a cakewalk to you. I hope that in the midst of whatever things you’re dealing with today you are strengthened and encouraged by God’s upholding hand, and that you can rejoice in knowing that He is being glorified in your circumstances.

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